NSF-, USGS-Funded Study: Arctic Ice at Low Point Compared to Recent Geologic History

Image of Leonid Polyak

Leonid Polyak


Less ice covers the Arctic today than at any time in recent geologic history.

That’s the conclusion of an international group of researchers, who have compiled the first comprehensive history of Arctic ice.

For decades, scientists have strived to collect sediment cores from the difficult-to-access floor, to discover what the Arctic was like in the past. Their most recent goal: to bring a long-term perspective to the ice loss we see today.

Now, in an upcoming issue of Quarternary Science Reviews, a team led by Ohio State University researchers has re-examined the data from past and ongoing studies -- nearly 300 in all--and combined them to form a big-picture view of the pole’s climate history stretching back millions of years.

The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey funded the research.

“The ice loss that we see today--the ice loss that started in the early 20th Century and sped up during the last 30 years--appears to be unmatched over at least the last few thousand years,” said Leonid Polyak, a research scientist at Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University.

Polyak is lead author of the paper and a preceding report that he and his coauthors prepared for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

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